March 9, 2001

Bustamante Responds to Bush's Administrations Failure to Adjust Census Count

Sacramento — Lt. Governor Cruz M. Bustamante, a member of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, today criticized the announcement by U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans that the Bush Administration will not correct a projected undercount in the 2000 Census.

"I am dismayed by the Bush Administration's decision to block the release of corrected Census data," Bustamante said in a statement. "Although Secretary Evans stated that the raw Census numbers are to be used only for redistricting purposes, history shows us that they can also affect the distribution of federal funds. This decision could lead to an economic tragedy for California — the potential loss of billions of dollars over the next then years."

Bustamante said that the release of only uncorrected Census data means the federal government could disregard nearly one million Californians when federal funds are distributed for a variety of programs, including foster care, child care and Medi-Cal.

"Taxpayer dollars that should be coming back to California to help our children and seniors, and to better our schools and roads will instead go elsewhere," Bustamante said. "Plain and simple, California taxpayers would be cheated out of their fair share of federal dollars for federally funded programs."

In addition to serving on the Census Monitoring Board, Bustamante also served as vice chair of the California Complete Count Campaign, a $24.7 million state Census outreach and advertising effort authored by Bustamante and which targeted traditionally hard-to-count communities.

The effort paid off as the final 2000 Census response rates showed that California achieved a 70% rate —three points higher than the national average and five points higher the state's 1990 response rate.

The 2000 Census had less of an undercount than in 1990 when an estimated 4 million people were missed. Still, it's estimated that 3.3 million people were missed in last year's raw count.

U.S. Census Bureau Acting Director William Barron Jr., reported last week that his agency ran out of time before it could determine whether adjusted data would be more accurate than the raw numbers from the actual 2000 count.

Historically, the majority of those missed in the Census undercount come from poor, urban and rural communities, with children accounting for the highest portion of the under-count.

"If this is what it means to be a `compassionate conservative,' Californians can do without it," Bustamante concluded.

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